School to School Collaboration – An Eco Challenge

Thornhill Primary School is continually looking for ways to further engage with schools in a wider context beyond cluster, SIG and family of school working to impact positively on learners from across the region. With national awards for sustainability from the Ashden Foundation and Total Green Schools, we believed we could use our knowledge and expertise to bring schools together to further develop sustainability in South Wales.

We looked at various models for school to school working and brokered arrangements with fourteen schools using our contacts from across the Cardiff Deputy Head Network. As the project developed we began to identify our own objectives for working with other schools. We committed time for planning, research, development and evaluation of the project. Our objectives were to give schools an opportunity to develop real and relevant projects in their own schools linked to eco and sustainability which could be displayed or exhibited in a museum. The project was a perfect enrichment opportunity to develop a whole school approach.

Over a period of three months we developed a programme of events which would support learning and teaching. The initial engagement day at Thornhill Primary involved eco groups working on problem solving and team building skills. A later visit to the National Museum engaged the learners in how to produce their own exhibitions. Finally a showcase day brought together judges from Eco Schools Wales, Total Green Schools, the local authority and the museum to consider the outcomes for each school. Eco groups developed projects which would have a positive impact on the sustainability in their own communities ranging from eco song writing to poo patrols and upcycling of clothing. Whilst the challenge was engaging for all learners they also had the opportunity to meet and work together and to find out about projects in other schools.

The eco-challenge was a wonderful way to share our work and best practice across the schools, led by the children. There were moments along the way where we felt pressured for time but ultimately, we decided to keep to the tight timescale for completion as this was key to keeping the impetus in the project. Whilst the focus was on sustainability, the programme clearly provided opportunities to develop literacy, numeracy and ICT skills with many schools demonstrating high level writing, scientific thinking, graph work and use of engaging apps and technology such as Movie Maker, QR codes and Kahoot.

At the end of the project we carried out evaluations of our work taking into consideration the views of teaching staff, head teachers and children. This provided us with evidence of our work and helped us to self-evaluate for future projects. We are looking forward to planning our next venture!

We are extremely pleased to announce that the National Museum of Wales will be exhibiting the works by the fourteen schools on 18th March in the main hall – a celebration of work for the whole school community, children, staff and parents. Something to be really proud of!

Elizabeth Berry

Elizabeth Berry

Deputy Headteacher at Thornhill Primary School
Elizabeth Berry

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